Deloitte is set to bow out of the European legal services market. A review of its European legal network will recommend that the law firms sever ties with their accounting parent and found an independent legal network.
Although Deloitte was probably the big four accountant least committed to a legal network, this is yet another nail in the coffin of the multidisciplinary partnership concept.
The move follows a decision between KLegal and KPMG UK to sever ties with each other (The Lawyer, 20 October). KLegal’s European law firms are still trying to hammer out an agreement to form a network.
Landwell law firms across Europe have also severed ties with PricewaterhouseCoopers, but the UK firm has not. Only Ernst & Young has kept its European legal practice, and crucially it does not work with the firm’s audit clients.
Scipio van der Stoel, a partner at Deloitte’s associated Netherlands law firm AKD Prinsen Van Wijmen, told The Lawyer: “The law firms which are already, or will become, completely independent from Deloitte will form an alliance. A key criteria is that they must be completely independent.”
A committee led by Carrel baron van Lynden, another Prinsen partner, is debating the best structure for the new legal network, with a final decision slated for the spring.
Van der Stoel said that, aside from independence, quality and market penetration will be the main criteria for entry. The network will try to retain some sort of strategic referral alliance with Deloitte.
Deloitte has links with firms in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, many of which have already had to change their relations with the accountant to comply with local regulations.
A Deloitte spokesperson said in a statement: “We are currently reviewing the most appropriate and competitive structures for the law firms with which Deloitte has a working relationship.”